Arcadea - Arcadea LP (Black vinyl)
Quite how Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor found time to work on Arcadea’s debut is anyone’s guess, but there’s no denying that this is a cohesive, convincing detour and considerably more interesting than any of his hirsute bandmates’ innumerable side-projects. Purveyors of oddball, synth-driven rock, propelled along by Brann’s customary clatter, this trio exist at the midpoint between Mastodon’s artful hard rock and the throbbing menace of synthwave acts like Anvil Strykez and Perturbator, with a broad streak of Devo-ish, new wave angularity thrown in for bewildering measure. It’s a formula honestly worn; for all their squelching synths and woofing bass frequencies, songs like The Pull Of Invisible Strings could just as easily have been purely guitar-based, but the trio’s obvious delight at subverting the norm leads to some genuinely startling moments of quasi-futuristic psychedelia and even some authentic prog perversity, most notably on the stunning Through The Eye Of Pisces. Brann’s drumming is predictably mindblowing throughout, of course, but he’s flexing a few new muscles here and audibly thrilled by the opportunity. If you like the sound of gnarly old-school synths and wish Mastodon stepped outside the box more, Arcadea could be your new favourite bit-on-the-side.